IRVING, Texas -- To the playbook filled with ploys that haven't worked against the San Francisco 49ers, add H2O.
After last night's 24-6 win over the Dallas Cowboys, the 49ers complained about the water-soaked artificial surface at Texas Stadium and suggested that it had been done intentionally to slow them down.
"They watered the field," nose tackle Michael Carter said. "It was real slippery out there, and we weren't prepared for it. A lot of our guys wear basketball-type shoes, and they had to change their shoes when we went in at halftime."
Defensive end Pierce Holt said equipment assistant manager Ted Walsh also told him that the field had been watered down before the game.
"It seemed to dry out as the game progressed," Holt said. "But at the start, it was really bad. Ted said they watered it down."
A Cowboys spokesman refuted that, attributing the soggy surface to a rainstorm earlier in the week.
"It did rain here pretty good Wednesday night," he said. "We put tarps on the field, but the maintenance crew says the water still seeps through the tarp."
In any event, the 49ers seemed to have more problems with the turf than the Cowboys, starting with their first play from scrimmage, when running back Roger Craig was hit behind the line of scrimmage and fumbled the ball. Linebacker Eugene Lockhart recovered the ball at the 9. Three plays later, Ken Willis kicked a 23-yard field goal to give Dallas a 3-0 lead.
"He nearly took the handoff," Craig said of defensive tackle Jimmie Jones, who blew past guard Harris Barton to make the hit.
"They came out in a defense we weren't ready for, and I slipped," Barton said.
Whether it was a slippery surface or the 49ers' inability to get fired up for the 3-7 Cowboys, this was not a win that you'd want to enter in a beauty pageant.
Then again, maybe the 49ers didn't intend it to be. San Francisco coach George Seifert made it clear that this game was dedicated to improving the running game. That goal was achieved as the 49ers rushed 35 times for 107 yards. That's the 49ers' second-highest number of attempts this season and the third-highest yardage.